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Tins collection of Algonkin lore is a miscellaneous 
assortment of myth, tradition, and other matter, and lays 
no claim to being exhaustive ; as a matter of fact, it is 
far from that. It may, however, be taken as a fair sample 
of the kind of unrecorded literature to be found among 
three related Algonkin peoples, — the Sauks, Foxes, and 
Kickapoos. This particular body of material is the pecul- 
iar property of the Foxes of Iowa, and with some excep- 
tions it is told in their own dialect; the exceptions are in 
the dialect of the Sauks. It forms part of a mass of in- 
formation obtained during the summers of 1901 and 1902 
in connection with ethnological work done for the American 
Museum of Natural History, New York, and for the Bureau 
of American Ethnology, Washington; and it was the imme- 
diate basis of a piece of linguistic work done for the 
Bureau of American Ethnology at Washington. 

The conditions for the collection of this material were 
not such as could be controlled by the inducement of a 
payment ; for with all their weaknesses, and in spite of 
their utter poverty, the Foxes were not yet at that point 
where their lore could be pm*chased, at least by me. So 
what was imparted was done in friendship and by way 
of a gift, not all at once, but at leisure and bit by bit. 
And in so far as much of the text was told too fast to 
permit of the recording of every single word that fell from 
the lips of a narrator, to that extent is the character- 
of it further deficient. It was now^here and at no time 
possible to get clear of the esoteric mystification which 


enveloped every phase of this traditional lore. Every 
single piece of text was told but once, and delivered without 
thought of the purpose I meant to make of the material. 
In no other way could this matter be obtained at the time; 
and unless these people have greatly changed since that 
time, only in such manner is the rest of their lore yet to 
be had. The Foxes are conservative to a degree perhaps 
not surpassed by another Algonkin people within the bor- 
ders of the United States, unless it be their kindred, the 
so-called Mexican band of Kickapoos. They still cling 
to the life of the past with all that firm tenacity which 
has been their predominating trait ever since the day 
they were first known to the French, who found them a 
proud formidable people up and down the western shores 
of Lake Michigan. And among the things they hold 
with deep veneration is this very lore herein recorded. 
They regard it sacred and give it a fitting place in their 
scheme of things. To hold it up to ridicule would be as 
profane as for a Christian to mock his Bible. These texts 
should be supplemented by the material that was taken 
down in English when it was not possible to take it down 
in Fox. It is my purpose to bring the rest of this out 
in connection with a work dealing with the material cul- 
ture of this small but interesting people. 

The characteristic features of much of this material, not 
only in its subject-matter but in its form of philosophy, 
are to be met with over the greater part of North Amer- 
ica. And most of the tales have corresponding variants 
among other people not of Algonkin stock. Many of 
the narratives, in particular the shorter kind, may seem 
to the reader as nothing more than mere fragments. As 
a matter of fact, that is about all that some of them are. 
And yet the long narrative is not the usual thing with 
the Foxes. They rather prefer the brief story and like 

to tell a tale in as short a form as it can be told. In 
this respect they are unlike the Ojibwas, who have a 
fondness for the long narrative ; the more evenings it takes 
to finish the story, the better it is. The Ojibwa likes 
detail, is incHned to be digressive, and in temperament 
is more given to the display of fancy and emotion. In 
consequence the Ojibwa tale moves more slowly by reason of 
its garrulity ; but it is of more value for the greater amount 
of information it reveals. It is perhaps possible to account 
for one reason of the Fox preference for the short nar- 
rative. When the weather begins to chill and the nights 
become raw, the fire of the lodge is then the centre of a 
circle of men and women, some sitting and others lounging, 
with the feet always towards the fire. By and by some 
one spins a tale ; the next person tells another, and so 
round the circle go the stories one after another, and the 
last different from all that went before. They soon get 
under way, and hurry swiftly on with little or seldom any 
by-play, and come up at the end with a suddenness that 
is often startling. The result is a tale generally so ellip- 
tical that it would not be altogether clear to an outsider 
who was not familiar with its setting. And this habit of 
rapid narration tends to develop a traditional stereotyped 
style, of which the best examples in the text are the stories 
of the culture-hero playing the role of the guest and the host. 
Some parts of this collection are just the sort of tales 
that have passed round the fire circle, while others were 
related with varying degrees of formality and under differ- 
ent situations. In some instances the object was only for 
pure trifling merriment, and in others it was seriously 
meant to convey information and moral instruction. 

For convenience and out of a sense of general relation- 
ship the matter is presented under six broad divisions. 
Part I indicates the character of the oral historical narra- 

tive. Under Part II is grouped a number of stories that 
have no intimate relation with one another, but belong to 
the general body of myth and tradition. Part III includes 
various forms of the didactic story, in which a certain line 
of conduct is meant to be taught not so much by direct 
implication as by the inference suggested from a personal 
narration cited for an example ; the didactic story is a form 
of parable. In Part IV are a number of stories, some of 
which are really didactic in character, but which are placed 
together under a general grouping of fasting, visions, and 
dreams. Part V embraces the stories connected with the 
culture-hero. And finally in Part VI are given a few 
examples of the short simple prayer. 

The plan of the translation was to follow^ the order of 
ideas expressed in the original as far as the idiom would 
permit, consequently the text can to a great extent be 
followed word for word and sentence for sentence in the 
translation. The sentences and paragraphing correspond 
in both text and translation, likewise the punctuation with 
period, colon, and semicolon, but not always with comma 
and exclamation-point. 

It is not an easy thing to convey the sense of Algon- 
kin by means of an absolutely literal rendering. Yet the 
translation here offered is in a way fairly close ; in some 
instances it may be too free, while in as many others it 
may be so close as to obscure the full sense of the origi- 
nal. But nevertheless, whatever may be its imperfections, 
the translation is my own, and I alone am responsible. 

The articulation of the consonants and the pronunciation 
of the vowels should offer little or no difficulty. A descrip- 
tive word or two with each letter will indicate the nature 
of its sound. 


of the 

American Ethnological Society 
Edited by FRANZ BOAS 





Late E. J. BRILL 


LEYDEN, 1907